Australia’s biggest seafood outlet is open for business this Easter under special COVID-19 restrictions.
- The Sydney Fish Markets usually attract 40,000 people for Easter
- The markets are still open, with strict social-distancing measures in place
- The market CEO expects the Easter turnover could be half the usual $10 million
The Sydney Fish Market, which usually attracts more than 40,000 people over the holiday weekend, has beefed up security and will restrict numbers in its retail outlets.
Chief executive officer Greg Dyer said the market could turn over $10 million in a normal Easter period, but he expected the public’s general compliance with stay-at-home advice could halve this.
“We’re not entirely sure how many visitors we’ll get on the site, but we expect a dramatic reduction and those that do come will see a very different Sydney Fish Market,” Mr Dyer said.
“A very well organised and highly drilled Sydney Fish Market will make sure we are maintaining all of the requirements under the COVID-19 regulations.”
Good Friday, traditionally the busiest day of the year, will operate with extended trading hours from 5am until 5pm. Parking and pedestrian entry will be restricted on site and police will support enhanced security.
The market’s five seafood retailers will limit the number of customers allowed inside at any one time and will operate under a one-way traffic system.
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De Costi Seafood manager Carmelo Lombardo said online orders had grown by close to 70 per cent during the COVID-19 crisis but he wanted to reassure customers physical-distancing measures would not detract from their Easter market experience.
“Rest assured that when you do buy seafood down the market, you know we have an environment where you can shop at your own leisure but in a safe way,” Mr Lombardo said.
Prices on Australia’s biggest seafood auction floor have surged this week in the lead-up to Easter.
According to Kerry Strangas from the Master Fish Merchants Association, prices collapsed last month after restaurants and the food service industry stopped trading.
“The prices have steadied again, there’s not as much product so the fishermen are getting a reasonable price and a fair price,” Mr Strangas said.
“We want the fishermen to keep fishing and for us to keep trading.”
He said if prices collapsed it would be dire.
“Then the industry is gone because you’re not going to get out of bed if you don’t get what you deserve for your product.”
The improved market has been a godsend for fishers such as Danny Green who operates a trap fishing business out of Coffs Harbour in New South Wales.
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“Probably two weeks ago, up until this last week, fish prices have been crap,” Mr Green said.
“Now, just before Easter, snapper prices are the highest I’ve ever seen them. You’re looking at $25 to $26 a kilogram.”
At Lake Munmorah in NSW, mesh net and mud crab fisher Allan Reed said some of his catch had been sold for bait two weeks ago because of the reduced demand.
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He was also getting less than $8 a kilogram for mud crabs, but this week they earned $57 a kilogram.
“It got so bad I was only working one day a week,” Mr Reed said.
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